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Psilocybin vs. Psilocin

Psilocybin vs. Psilocin. You may have heard these terms used interchangeably when discussing the effects of psilocybe cubensis, most commonly known as magic mushrooms. You may be familiar of the term psilocybin, which often identifies as chemical compound by which you feel the effects.

  • Psilocybin —> 0-phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N
  • Psilocin —> 4-hydroxy-N. N-dimethyltryptamine

It sounds like gibberish, unless you’re a chemist. Both of these compounds are equally psychoactive in their own right, but psilocin is the compound which is mostly responsible for the psychoactive effect that mushrooms cause. This is how it works:

  1. Individuals ingest mushrooms orally
  2. Psilocybin taken orally is broken down in digestive track by the enzyme alkaline phosphate
  3. Alkaline phosphate converts psilocybin to psilocin

IF you were to bypass the digestive tract and psilocybin was to maintain its chemical structure, it is equally as psychoactive. We know this because many research studies often use dosing methods which bypass the digestive tract.

Both of these compounds, psilocybin and psilocin, occur naturally within magic mushrooms. Outside of the body, psilocin is extremely unstable, and quickly degrades with exposure to oxygen or heat. This is the reason that fresh shrooms bruise so easily during harvest. It is the psilocin inside the mushrooms experiencing degradation. This does not mean a bruised mushroom is not potent! Psilocybin, the more stable of the two compounds, is present in much higher levels in the mushrooms, where as there are only trace amounts of actual psilocin. The reason why psilocybin is used in research as opposed to psilocin is because psilocybin is the more stable of the two compounds.

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